The New England Free Jacks second-half effort spoiled Rugby New York’s home opener, winning 38-29 on Sunday, March 6 at JFK Stadium in Hoboken, New Jersey. The match was a sell-out with 1400 fans in attendance with others on the surrounding rooftops and an off-field area teaming with other spectators. The match was streamed on The Rugby Network and a replay is available.
Rugby New York hosts San Diego Legion in a battle of second-place teams from opposing conferences on Sunday, March 13 for a 3 pm ET kickoff. Get your tickets now as another sell-out is likely.
New England hosts the Toronto Arrows on Saturday, March 12 at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium in Quincy, Massachusetts with kickoff at 4:30 pm. Purchase tickets now!
The teams face each other three times this season with Rugby New York hosting the first two matches (March 6, April 24) and the Free Jacks the last, June 3. Despite the loss, Rugby New York is in second place one point behind Rugby ATL in the standing and ahead of the Free Jacks on point differential (+3) with both teams having 15 points. All three teams have 3-1 records and are the early Eastern Conference leaders for the three playoff spots.
Rugby New York has had four venues in the past three years with the pandemic impacting where the team could train and play. The support of the team is high and was evident by the team’s first sell-out in their history. Expect this to continue this season, so get your tickets early for matches!
As a rugby journalist, it was also an opportunity to conduct interviews again on the field and this is planned again for future home matches. Look for DJCoil Rugby interviews of Rugby New York’s General Manager Steve Lewis and center, Fasi Fuatai, as well as Free Jacks’ GM/Owner Alex Magleby that will appear on the DJCoil Rugby YouTube Channel and also on the website under Videos, Professional Rugby Interviews in the next few hours.
Rugby also has had a tradition of hosting the visiting team after matches, and players and fans packed Tenth and Willon for post-match festivities. It gave an opportunity for those attending to unwind, discuss the match, catch up with old friends, and meet new ones as well.
The partners and families of many Rugby New York players were also there in support.
Congrats to Ishmail Shabazz for making his MLR debut against the Free Jacks. Sam Windsor and Dylan Fawsitt will have individual milestones when they play in their 50th MLR match, with Sam next week and Dylan the following one.
Rugby New York had an early scoring opportunity thwarted by a forward pass to Dylan Fawsitt, which could have resulted in a try. The team would strike first following a Connor Buckley box kick which was claimed by Andrew Coe. The ball went through several players’ hands before Sam Windsor’s crosskick connected with a diving Andrew Coe in the right corner. Windsor then slotted the extras from near touch to take a 7-0 lead.
New England used quick crashes and slants from within the New York 22-meters with Slade McDowall crashing in-goal for a try with Beaudein Waaka leveling the match at 7 all after his conversion.
Rugby New York answered back after a penalty at the breakdown with a Sam Windsor penalty goal to lead again, 10-7.
In this seesaw battle, Free Jacks scrumhalf John Poland dove under New York defenders for a try near the post, providing Waaka an easy conversion, 10-14.
It appeared that New York would reclaim the lead attacking from a lineout 5-meters from in-goal. A penalty, however, stopped this chance. Soon after, Ben Bonasso would ripe the ball away from a Free jack player deep inside their territory and after a break down the right wide channel offloaded to Andrew Coe, who raced the final 40 meters for his second try of the match to lead 15-14 at the break.
New England did have another scoring chance but was held up resulting in an in-goal dropout for New York.
Rugby New York kicked to begin the half and a turnover had them on the attack. The team used a quick ball to the left and then to the right, however, an intended pass to Pago Haini by Sam Windsor was intercepted by Beaudein Waaka for a try under the posts, 15-21.
New York answered back two minutes later from a set-piece moving the ball wide left with Jack Heighton setting up a Brendon O’Connor try in the left corner. Sam Windsor then slotted another kick from touch to lead 22-21.
New England appeared to add another try, however, the ball was lost while attempting to ground. The Free Jacks reclaimed the lead soon after in the 57th minute when a Rugby New York penalty gave Beaudein Waaka an easy penalty goal, 22-24.
John Poland would place New York under defensive pressure with tactical box kicks and after turnovers by both sides had the Free jacks attacking from a 5-meter lineout. New York created a maul penalty by the Free jacks to clear.
Another Poland box kick placed New York under pressure, with the team grounding in goal for a New England 5-meter scrum. Several picks by the forwards resulted in a try by Joe Johnston in the 70th minutes with Waaka adding the extras, 22-31.
In the 78th minute, Waaka found a gap in the New York defense and added a hat trick and conversion, pushing the lead, 22-38.
In the 80th minute, a turnover gave New York the last attack. a break by Fasi Fuatai and an offload to jack Heighton added a bonus point try, with Heighton adding the extras, 29-38.
The sell-out crowd witnessed a thrilling day of rugby and while the home team will be disappointed with the result, they will regroup and prepare for another tough opponent next Sunday when they face the Western Conference second-place team, the 4-1 San Diego Legion.
New England had a number of fans in attendance and will look to carry the momentum from the match for their home opener on Saturday against the 4th place Toronto Arrows, who will be looking to get back in contention in the tight Eastern Conference race.
Squads with Player Article Links & Match Preview
Rugby New York:1 Chance Wenglewski 2 Dylan Fawsitt 3 Kalolo Tuiloma 4 Nate Brakeley (C) 5 Will Tucker 6 Ben Bonasso 7 Joe Basser 8 Brendon O’Connor 9 Connor Buckley 10 Sam Windsor 11 Ed Fidow 12 Jason Emery 13 Faasiu Fuatai14 Andrew Coe 15 Jack Heighton 16 Wilton Rebolo 17 Sak Taulafo18 Nic Mayhew 19 Charlie Hewitt 20 Pago Haini 21 Andy Ellis 22 Ismail Shabazz 23 Quinn Ngawati
New England Free Jacks: 1 Alex Johnston 2 Foster DeWitt 3 Tevita Sole4 Josh Larsen (C.) 5 Stan van den Hoven 6 Joe Johnston 7 Slade McDowall 8 Terrell Peita 9 John Poland10 Beaudein Waaka 11 Harry Barlow 12 Le Roux Malan 13 Wayne van der Bank 14 Jack Reeves 15 Mitch Wilson 16 Pieter Jansen 17 Kyle Ciquera 18 Erich de Jager 19 Reegan O’Gorman 20 Cam Davidowicz 21 Holden Yungert 22 Harrison Boyle 23 Mills Sanerivi
Rugby New York
- Houston SaberCats 7-10 Rugby New York
- Rugby ATL 31-36 Rugby New York
- Dallas Jackals 5-41 Rugby New York
- Rugby New York 29-38 New England Free Jacks
New England Free Jacks
- NOLA Gold 13-24 New England Free Jacks
- Old Glory DC 25-41 New England Free Jacks
- LA Giltinis 19-14 New England Free Jacks
- Rugby New York 29-38 New England Free Jacks